A heart shaped necklace of small sapphires, with a small hanging diamond in the middle. As a necklace it is simple and tasteful, though not one that would immediately catch your eye, yet because of this necklace, I learned a valuable lesson.

The original necklace consisted only of the sapphires and years later my mother added a round diamond taken from my grandmother's engagement ring. My mother recently gave me this necklace and the first time I wore it, I explained to my children that my mother presented me with the necklace and that the diamond belonged to my paternal grandmother, Toba Leah Edelman. A few days later my eight year old daughter came over to me and instead of kissing me, she kissed the necklace. "Bryna" I asked, "why did you kiss the necklace and not me?" Her response caught me off guard. She replied "I wanted to touch something that belonged to your grandmother".

The sincerity of her words still remains with me. My daughter never saw her great-grandmother who passed away when I was under ten. Sadly, I do not have too many personal memories of her that I can share with my children, yet Bryna understood that this was a piece of her past and she was eager to touch it and embrace it.

Bryna understood that this was a piece of her past In her innocent way, Bryna was teaching me this valuable lesson. We all have a desire to touch the past; to know our ancestors in a way that will add meaning to our lives and invigorate our future. If a necklace has the potential to span generations, in what other ways are we able to touch the past that will fuel the future? We have a rich history with many role models that are sources of inspiration for our own lives, but how to tap into them, how to make them real enough to touch?

We teach our children about the lives of our matriarchs; Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah but we must not stop at simply telling the stories. Our obligation is to make our matriarchs, and other holy, noble, and righteous men and women of our past into tangible examples of how we are to live our lives. Imagine the excitement that is possible when we enter Shabbat if when lighting the candles, you tell your daughter that she is doing what Sarah did in her tent so many years ago and when we light the candles, we connect with our Matriarch, Sarah, and cause her to live on in our deeds. When our shy children welcome a guest that comes to our home or they have a conversation with a newcomer to our synagogue or community, we should tell them that they are a modern day Rebecca carrying out the mitzvah of lovingkindness as she did when she treated Eliezer with kindness upon his arrival to Charan.

I should capitalize on the connection As a young girl, I never tired of dressing up on Purim like my namesake Queen Esther. It never seemed unimaginative to me to find a special dress, rummage through my mother's box of jewelry and submit myself to my older sister's cosmetic makeover year after year. After all, if I am named Esther, I should capitalize on the connection. As I grew, instead of the connection waning, or lying dormant to be taken out once a year and brushed off for Purim like a dusty old noisemaker, my connection grew. I began to think about Queen Esther and what it was about her life that touched me and more than that; I began to ask myself it there was something about her life that I would still be able to touch. Esther hid her identity from King Achashverosh when she was chosen as queen, until it was time to risk her life for her people. She displayed great internal strength during her time in the palace and did not turn her back on her people from her relative safety within the palace walls. She encouraged the Jews to pray to G‑d for her and with words of Psalms on her lips, entered the inner sanctum of the king without permission. In her merit, and the merit of her Jewish brethren who gathered in prayer, G‑d showed kindness to her and her prayers were answered. When we show strength and leadership in difficult times, when we turn to G‑d for support and rely on that support to see us through, we are clothing ourselves in the spiritual garments of Queen Esther, the strength, faith, and grace that are found within every Jew.

Just as the diamond on my necklace twinkles in the light, reminding me of one strong woman who came before me, all the mitzvahs that we do become lights which connect us to the many strong women in our nation's past, while at the same time they illuminate the world around us transforming darkness into light.When carried out with joy and enthusiasm, our deeds shine that much more.

So, too, will the souls of all those women in whose footsteps we follow.